Thursday, March 18th, 2010 at 9:00 am  |  83 responses

Dwight Howard: ‘Not Going to Change Anything About Me’

by Marcel Mutoni / @marcel_mutoni

When discussing Dwight Howard’s game (and personality), fans and media generally have three complaints: his offensive repertoire isn’t developed enough, he doesn’t shoot free throws well, and Howard just smiles too damn much.

Dwight is more than willing to work on the first two gripes; it’s the last one that he has major issues with. So, when Skip Bayless — he of the loud, angry, and utterly meaningless rants on television — said he prefers the aging Tim Duncan over Dwight, the gentle giant responded rather sharply.

The Orlando Sentinel captured Dwight Howard’s reaction last night:

“I think everybody has a problem with anything I do on the floor. We got to the Finals last year with the same way I played this year. I’m not going to change who I am, I’m not going to change my personality. I’m not going to change anything about me. I’ve been playing basketball since I was three years old. I never changed one part of myself in this game. I’ve gotten a lot better since I’ve been playing basketball, but one thing that has always been consistent is I’m going to have fun out there. Basketball brings me joy. I don’t care what people say about me smiling too much or having too much fun. Hey, I’m doing something I love. I’m going to be thankful and have fun doing it.”

“I don’t know what he could possibly say. Scottie Pippen said things, also Skip. I know in order to win you gotta work hard and that’s one thing that I do. I work extremely hard on both ends. I might have nights where I might not shoot the ball as well but I’m still going to work hard, I’m still going to play defense and do all the small things. Numbers don’t lie.,,Well Skip Bayless can call me out a million times. I don’t think he’s ever put on a jock strap, stepped on the floor and played any type of basketball. That’s his job. That’s their job to criticize players. Only people that we have to listen to are our coaches. Those are the guys that get paid to make us better players.’

For whatever reason, people don’t like the idea of an athlete — especially an elite one — playing the game with a smile on their face. It leads people to believe that the player doesn’t take the game seriously enough.

Unfortunately for Dwight, until he wins a title doing things his own jovial way, he’ll continue to hear this petty criticism. Hell, it might even continue after that. That’s life in the media age. Sorry, D12.

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  • Ken

    While I understand him being prickly about criticism, I think any player that young should be thinking they have room to improve. Free throws?

  • Randy Brown

    He never said he wouldn’t try and improve his game, only that his personality won’t change. Good for him

  • German Reignman

    He is willing to improve, but wants to keep his own personality … that is perfectly fine for me. Do we really need another mean mugging dude ? Isn`t it about time that all this tough guy mimicking is over ? He is getting paid millions to play a game, I would smile 24-7 if I were Dwight … and anybody saying he is not taking this seriously: Would you want to step on the court against him ? He is all smiles but could and would easily destroy you …

  • tomtom

    @ken he’s not saying he dosn’t beleive or want to improve. He’s saying that he is guna do it his way. Which is with as sense of enjoyment. Nothing atall wrong with that.
    i love his comment about ‘he’s probably never put on a jock strap’ Its so true that so many ppl who have never played professional sports are so called ‘analysts or experts’ brilliant observation.

  • http://witnesstheking.blogspot.com Witness

    You know that after so much criticism he’s goin to start playin angry and with a chip on his shoulder. I think players play best when they have something to prove. LeBron James is a much more efficient player when he’s angry as opposed to him being cheerful and excited. The media has been nothin but friendly to Dwight thus far and he’s finally hearin why they lost in the NBA Finals last year. He wasn’t tough enough and didn’t play like he had somethin to prove at all. Its gonna take a huge ass kickin by an Eastern Conference powerhouse and tons of blame bein aimed at Dwight for him to get that motivation where he’ll wanna push himself to be an aggressive scorer in this league.

  • http://witnesstheking.blogspot.com Witness

    For the record he could also improve on the defensive end if he learned how to play post defense without getting himself in foul trouble. Thats usually how other NBA teams try to take Dwight off the court. By goin right at him. His blocks usually come off of help defense and blocking smaller guards. He could improve alot by learning how to play one on one. He cant even guard Shaq now who is years beyond his prime. Dwight is a freak of an athlete with huge potential. He just needs more motivation to eventually reach that. I guess a loss in the Finals didnt do much.

  • riggs

    skip is the white stephen a smith anyways, meaning he’s only a talking head and dont know sh*t bout what he’s talking about. there should be MORE people like dwight in the nba.

  • lucas

    Skip bayless and colin cowherd are lovers

  • http://witnesstheking.blogspot.com Witness

    I love Skip Bayless. Haha! He does his job well.

  • silverselectjd

    Read first, comment second…

  • http://big11mel@yahoo.com Big Mel

    They said the same thing about Shaq. How did that turn out?

  • http://www.slamonline.com Eboy

    You know Dwight, if you’ve been playing ball since you were three years old, you should have WAYYYYYYYYYYYYY more of an offensive game than you do today. Just saying. Perhaps you have a bit too much of a complex for criticism.

  • Justin

    I didn’t know people put on jock straps to play basketball. Be that as it may, like others have said, Dwight didn’t say he wasn’t trying to improve as a player. The fact that a guy can go out and play hard while having fun is actually refreshing these days. Guys don’t have to have a scowl on their face to make it look like they’re playing hard. And I sort of disagree with the Lebron thing. Look at him in that game (I believe against the Lakers) where while he’s waiting to get the ball to inbound, he’s rapping to Eminem. He was having the time of his life and having a great game to boot.

  • http://witnesstheking.blogspot.com Witness

    @Justin: That was one of the last possessions of the game. Did you see LeBron up until that point? He was in the zone! LeBron usually has a smile when he sits on the bench and rests. But when he steps onto the court he’s a whole nother LeBreez.

  • http://Slamonline.com Mvp23100

    Who cares about free throws shaq had a long prosperous career and couldnt shoot a lick but he can develop quite a few more moves on the block and maybe a 10 15 footer

  • Justin

    cosign Big Mel…but on a sidenote, what if Shaq had actually improved on those free throws?

  • http://witnesstheking.blogspot.com Witness

    @ Justin: If Shaq would have been a career 70 percent free throw shooter teams wouldn’t have reverted to fouling him and he would have stayed on the floor a little bit longer. Lets just say that Shaq’s shoes wouldn’t be sold at payless forever.

  • underdog

    I have no problem with the smiles and the laughs and all the joy. I think he is a lucky dude. Not everybody is a ice cold killer on the court, and I’m totally cool with that. His jump shooting (or the lack of it) is a more concerning topic. He’s plenty of time to improve, though.

  • peter

    Dwight wears a JOCK STRAP to play basketball?

  • http://www.slamonline.com Eboy

    Odd that the self-appointed Superman (you know, the moniker he took from one of the games greatest centers…ever) has plenty of time to improve his game, his demeanor, his team’s fortunes…yet the self-appointed King (did he mean of the entire NBA or just Cleveland, I’m still trying to figure that out) is blasted for all the same reasons and not doing enough to be the man with multiple title wins already? Yes, it’s a really stupid basketball world we live in.

  • http://witnesstheking.blogspot.com Witness

    @ Eboy: When Dwight Howard smiles on the court you wanna be his friend. When LeBron James smiles on the court you wanna punch him in his face. What are you talkin about?

  • http://www.slamonline.com Eboy

    Didn’t Dwight have a dance-off with Shaq a couple of All-Star games ago? Doesen’t he make horrible commercials? Didn’t he hype himself to the most corny of all corniness in dunk contests by wearing capes, using phone booth props, acting like a big child? Didn’t everyone practically cum on themselves because it was so entertaining and funny? Ah, but if Lebron moves his body to the beat of the music….WATCH OUT…..he’s DISREPECTING THE GAME, THE WORLD, ALL OF THE UNIVERSE WILL FALL INTO DISSARAY!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

  • http://witnesstheking.blogspot.com Witness

    @ Eboy: I didn’t go to sleep last night so excuse me when I say I don’t know what you’re talkin about.

  • http://www.slamonline.com Eboy

    Sorry, sorry, I better get back to my Heat rooting section before I’m called a front-runner and talent watching whore.

  • http://www.slamonline.com/ niQ

    Skip Bayless…who?

  • http://witnesstheking.blogspot.com Witness

    @ Eboy: I don’t mean to rain on your parade but the Heat suck.

  • T-Money

    BS. You don’t need to frown to win. People are so caught up with MJ winning ways that they forget that Magic smiled his way to 5 ‘ships. Ronaldinho smiles all the time and he won everything that there is to win. People pay too much attention to things that are not related to the game. Hit you FTs and learn some damn post moves, Dwight. / As E-Boy said, I wouldn’T really put it oput there that he started playing at 3. What kind of coaching did he get from 3 to 18?!?!

  • http://www.slamonline.com Eboy

    Witness….you won’t be saying that next season!!!

  • T-Money

    I can’t believe that Dwight is that sensitive though. Why would you give any legitimacy to what Skip is saying by acknowledging his criticism?

  • http://witnesstheking.blogspot.com Witness

    Wade and Bosh to New York! Or maybe Chicago in a sign and trade.

  • http://farm4.static.flickr.com/3445/3357407353_c868c2d95c.jpg larrylegend

    @ German Reignman
    do u already have seen the reggie docu? we need more mean muggin again!

  • http://nbacheapseats.blogspot.com Chendaddy

    Time to get another Magic dancer pregnant.

  • Yesse

    Well he doesnt have to change anything, but the more i look at Dwight and the more his game develops i think the comparisons him against Shaq are useless. Dwight doesnt play the game Shaq played. Shaq scored more. I think Shaq will go down as a better player than him, but Dwight is getting up.

  • themis

    Dwight smiles now all the time but in the late 80s and early 90s he would be crying all day long with all the really great forwards and centers playing against him.

  • http://slamonline.com CB 34

    If dwight does develop a 10 to 12 ft jumper, he’ll be incredible but that’s a big if. Shaq was just more dominant and at present is the most dominant center to ever play the game. He could have played in any era and nothing would change. You put the other great centers in different eras and they would not have been as effective.

  • LA Huey

    Co-sign T-Money. Also, I hate Skip Bayless and everyone that provides people like him a living through this nonsense.

  • The Philosopher

    I’ve said this before and caught heat, but offensively, Dwight Howard has already peaked. He has time to get better, but it seems like that’s really not his main objective. He should be a 25ppg 15rpg guy by now. He’s pure athlete.

  • erich

    It’s really meaningless to hear that this Bayless guy likes the attitude of Timi more than Dwight’s.
    And it should not even be worth commenting on by Dwight.
    You can change your game and work hard but you shouldn’t change yourself or how you are.
    The last thing I want to say is that one greatest PG of all times smiled a lot.

  • erich

    I should have written co-sign T-Money.

  • vtrobot

    he should stick his lower jaw way out like kobe has been doing the past couple seasons. that’s very tough looking. then he should get a young money tat on the front of his neck. during the broadcast last night, howard said he’s hit 87 of 100 free throws during one practice? really? i find that very hard to believe.

  • http://slamonline.com Spaceship Jay

    3 years into the league you are who you are hands down. You may be able to improve slightly, but your gonna stay there for the most part. Dwight needs to stop smiling… Only for others, not himself. When others see you “Kobe bottom teeth grill” it sets a different tone. Laugh in your heart.

  • http://www.anwilson.blogspot.com/ rainman10

    Dwight leads the league in rebounding, blocked shots, field goal percentage, and people still want more. I guess the 40 and 14 in the conference finals that Dwight mentioned, and getting to the finals wasn’t enough. And people are dumb if they think he isn’t working on his game.

  • http://slamonline.com tealish

    Truth be told, no one should care whether you have a smile on your face or not. But, maybe you can take some attention off that by developing one offensive move.

  • Magicman101

    @Eboy “Odd that the self-appointed Superman” He never appointed himself like Shaq did. Howard earned it and the commentators dubbed him that because of his favorite song at that time. ONE of the games greatest centers…ever) has plenty of time to improve his game” It’s called work ethic fool.

    Okay so your saying that Shaq has worked on his free throws? Not! Shaq had a jump shot? Not! Shaq has an arsenal of offensive moves? Not!

    You stupid @ss people want guys to play with a chip on their shoulder and forget that the game was meant to be fun. That’s what’s wrong with your kind. Dwight is just having fun. VC smiles and no one takes anything from him for doing it. But because suckers doubt the next best ever center DW12 they have to put him down to protect what they have been used to for decades. Dwight is way better in all aspects of his game then Shaq was at that age and when he gets as old as he is now he will still be in better shape too. Men’s Fitness just had an article on him. Did Shaq get asked to do that? Of course not. And why do you think that is? Because Shaq is all FAT!!! I was here in Orlando and saw all the dunks Shaq missed and how he got pushed around so I know. Shaq is just jealous because he has never been, and never will, be in as good shape as Howard. So keep defending you dinosaur… just shows how naive you really are.

    and yes the Heat suck… and will suck next year… BTW what did you say last year? “The Heat will be better next year, just you wait and see.”


    Shaq = 40 % Fat
    Howard = 100% pure mussel

  • Shem

    Honestly, he’s the best center in the NBA. He’s the best defending big man as well. He rebounds, blocks and any lack of talent he has on offense he makes up with athleticism. Leave the dude alone. Your getting mad at him because he smiles after a block or a play, I’ve seen many players smile on the court. people love to hate

  • http://slamonline.com/ Spaceship Jay

    Shem, it’s not about hating the guy at all (at least from my perspective). Think about it this way… When Barkley used to play, he was a “talented enforcer” Elbow to the nose after a rebound, a glare after dunking on someone, barking at the refs, etc. Do you serously think that he and whoever he finished roughing up on the court wouldn’t go out for drinks afterwards? Again acting serious is just that.. acting. Just act angry.

  • http://www.hibachi20.blogspot.com Hursty

    You know who else smiles and laughs a lot?
    Usain Bolt.
    (But you know, Bolt has won, like, everything. Dwight, not so much).

  • http://theurbangriot.com/ NUPE

    I’d prefer more players to smile than mean mug all the time. You’re getting paid some pretty nice $$ to play a game, I’d smile too. Dwights offense will improve over time, he’s not built as wide as a Shaq or Ewing so he won’t just overpower centers. Maybe he should spend some time with Hakeem or D. Robinson to get a more athletic game. Also, some of his offensive numbers are lower beacuse the system he’s in with all the outside shooters. Considering his personal body of work and the teams success over the last couple years, it’s hard to find fault with the guys game so I guess it’s time to pick on his smile.

  • The Philosopher

    Nupe makes an interesting point when pointing out the system he’s in. If Howard were on a team where he is the only offensive option, he probably would be dominant scorer, but only because of his considerable physical dominance. As far as his offensive repretoire, his arsenal, go to moves, he’s not quite there. All he needs is a Kevin Willis jump hook, he’ll ascend to greatness.

  • The Philosopher

    As far as him smiling and giggling, and what not, every player has their own kind of motor, Magic used to smile, Michael, Isiah. All of the grear ones used to smile. But people used to get on Wilt Chamberlain for being all smiley, but, people used to get on Bill Russell for being too serious. Two all time greats. It doesn’t matter.

  • http://www.hibachi20.blogspot.com BETCATS

    Not a big Skip Bayless fan, so i always co-sign anyone who disagrees with him as long as they too are not a douche. Good job, Dwight.

  • http://jdfkslld.com Jukai

    Magicman101: I get the point yer trying to make, but Shaq, while not having many offensive moves, probably had double to triple the post moves that Dwight does. Seriously. People piss on Shaq because he didn’t have the moves of a Hakeem or Ewing or Walton or Jabbar down low… but then they saw Dwight and said “wow, I guess Shaq wasn’t that bad in the low post after all.”
    But the smiling comment is stupid. Magic smiled all the time. I mean all the time. The only time he didn’t smile was playing against the Celtics, cause he hated Bird. But when he went up against the Pistons/76ers, it was all smiles in the finals. Don’t you remember him playing center? After he got that first tip, it looked like the smile was gonna crack his face in half.
    I’ve never heard ONCE people telling Magic to stop smiling and look angry.

  • http://jdfkslld.com Jukai

    I think the problem with Dwight Howard is that people talk about how the offense is dulled down for the center position in today’s day and age, and they don’t realize how much harder it is to be a dominant DEFENSIVE center in today’s game with ticky-tac fouls, the restricted zone, and 3-second violations. Dwight would easily be Robinsonesque in the 80s/90s.

  • LA Huey

    @Magicman101, “Howard = 100% pure mussel”. I did not know the NBA allowed those with Mollusk in their family history to play. These rule changes suck. I miss the days when Magic and Bird could play without sharing the court invertebrates.

  • http://www.kb24.com The Seed

    First off, all Howard needs is one MVP and he is tied with Shaq. Also Howard only needs 3 rings, Shaq 4th ring as a bystander as the refs gave him his 4th in the worst called series in NBA HISTORY doesn’t count. Howard is top 5 player in the league, he smiled his way from a lay up and some stops from beating my Lakers. I would take Howard over anybody in the league right now with his age. A center spot that can get you 20 and 15 everynight is important. Defense wins games, not scoring. Ask the 2008 Lakers for that, also Howard will go down as a great, he is dominate with out a post game, so stop hating and realize he is what he is.

  • Tom

    someone should call him out on that running right hand hook. That is literally all he can do on an iso, someone tell him to stop calling for the ball so much with such a weak offensive game. Someone please call Van Gundy out for giving Howard anything but alley-oops. Am i the only person out there that thinks Orlando could be so much more consistent if they stopped wasting possessions giving him iso’s.

  • Teddy-the-Bear

    Robinsonesque on defense, Jukai? I agree. I know you weren’t talking about offense though. Tell me you weren’t.

  • The Philosopher

    Jukai is right about the centers of today. Yao Ming, Dwight Howard, Chris Kaman, Andrew Bynum. That may be it.

  • The Philosopher

    Andrew Bogut is coming around too.

  • http://www.slamonline.com/online/category/blogs/san-dova-speak-easy/ San Dova

    I have no problem with Dwight’s smile and personality, it actually makes me feel better about watching him.

    I DO, however, wish he’d start to really work on his offensive game. I think he does, but he’s been slow to develop, and I wonder just how dedicated he is to getting some actual signature moves that aren’t dunks–not that I want him laying the ball up, but it would be nice if he and Patrick Ewing worked on a fall-away jumper. You know. Like the one Patrick had.

  • dankNugs

    “The Philosopher Posted:
    Jukai is right about the centers of today. Yao Ming, Dwight Howard, Chris Kaman, Andrew Bynum. That may be it.”

    gotta put Nene in that discussion. He’s solid on both sides of the court and can put up numbers if he needs to.

  • http://www.realcavsfans.com Anton

    So you`ll continue being a b!tch ni&&a who doesn`t demand the ball?
    Alrighty then.

  • doyouwantmore

    Dwight’s awesome. He could create a fake scowl and pose like he’s mean, but instead he goes out an dominates and probably does work very hard on his game. I gained respect for him when he said that he’s thankful and having fun.

  • Linda Bart

    Dwight, I know that everyone thinks that you are goofing off. Yes, you have a good time but when it come to playing you are the center and plays come around you. Stop taking newsmedia negative comments so hard. Most Comments are good, and some are negative, I think that it is like the bad trying to upset the good. You commented that it might take 2 years before you reach your potential, we can wait and in the mean time keep working on your touches, foul shots and whatever you need to improve. Go Magic!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

  • Justin

    It’s really amazing to me how many people say “how many championships have they won?” when talking about Lebron and Howard. How many superstars had won one title, let alone multiple ‘chips when they were in their EARLY 20′s!!??! I can think of Magic Johnson, and that’s about it. He didn’t exactly get drafted by a crappy team either, although his legend began in the Finals that year. Jordan was 28 when he won his first. People don’t just walk in and start winning right away. For the most part, it’s a veteran squad that gets it done. Wait until these guys have been in the league 10 years and start making comparisons and talking about championships. Again, I guess Karl Malone, John Stockton, Charles Barkley and those guys ended up being considered terrible players cuz they never won a championship right?

  • Teddy-the-Bear

    These types of no-story quotes sure do get a large response. Nicely done, SLAM.

  • Teddy-the-Bear

    See, by quoting just the “Not Going to Change Anything About Me,” about a third of the readers are already fooled into thinking something like “Oh Dwight doesn’t want to improve his game!”
    Again, nicely done.

  • http://www.hoopistani.com Hoopistani

    Magic played with a smile on his face. I don’t hear anyone in the media dissing him about it.

  • nastierthanu

    @anton really bi!ch ni&&a gimme a break. D12 would whip ur tail. And that’s real talk. All these comments and no one says it but d12 has a tremendous faith maybe that’s where the smile comes from.

  • http://www.hibachi20.blogspot.com Hursty

    @nastierthanu faith enough to impregnate a magic cheerleader (no condom obviously), then have a baby by her at age 22 or so? Without marrying? And then having finanical battles with her over child support?

  • The Philosopher

    dabkNugs: Nene is decent too.

  • http://slamonline.com/ Spaceship Jay

    Jukai: It’s not about not smiling, it’s about setting the tone for your teamates and the opposing team. LeBron is just as “jovial” when he is out there. However, it didn’t take a lip reader to understand what he was saying after he mixed Perkins and got that And-1 layup last Sunday. “BOGUS @$$ MUTHA-@#$%AZ”… And as far as Magic is concerned, he smiled constantly, and it was in the constant encouragement of his team; that’s why Magic was the grreatest point guard ever… If you were trash basketball wise, he wouldn’t make you look that way.. Or make you feel that way either

  • http://jdfkslld.com Jukai

    Spaceship Jay: I’m guessing that Skip Bayless’ comment, judging from your comment, was a ROUNDABOUT WAY of saying “Howard needs to get a mean side to him, he needs to punish someone when they deserve it and get angry occasionally”
    In which case, I would say, yes.
    However, if I take Bayless at his word, which is “Howard needs to stop smiling during games” I would say “Skip is a f*cking psycho”

  • http://alimartin07@yahoo.com Ali

    Co-sign Jukai. Just my two cents, his personality is his personality, that’s one thing, but going hard, for an entire game AND! working on your game in practice and the off season to get better is another thing. Cracking a smirk or smile on the court is ok, but when it comes time to put you foot on someones neck or slang a bow are you ready to do that! He’d get is a** whooped in The Association of years past (late 80′s and 90′s!) Is Pat Ewing teaching this kid anything?

  • http://jdfkslld.com Jukai

    Would Dwight really get an ass whoopin’ in the 80s and 90s? People keep saying this. Imagine if Dwight could just clog the lane and swat at everything that moved. Sure, dude would probably only average 10-15 points, but he’d be getting 16-18 boards and 4-5 blocks a game. People talk about how offense is so much easier to come by nowadays, but the L has really killed defense.

  • ConeyIslander

    I don’t know but if I was like 24 and making millions to PLAY basketball you couldn’t burn that smile off my face! Keep smiling to the bank D-Howard!

  • rikson

    “People talk about how offense is so much easier to come by nowadays, but the L has really killed defense.” -> oh my god, thats soooo true!

  • http://slamonline.com/ Spaceship Jay

    I highly doubt he’d get his @$$ whooped in the 80′s/90′s. Alot of the grimmy edge might be gone from the NBA, but the NBA players of today are FAR MORE athleticly gifted than those of the 80′s/90′s. Dwight could probably punch a hole in D Rob, Hakeem and Ewing at the same time. He may not be more skilled (yet…?) but physically, Fugeddaboutit.

  • http://sevendeu2u.wordpress.com/ Seven Duece

    He LED his team to the Finals last year, nuff said.

  • http://fdjsklf.com Jukai

    Spaceship Jay: Well, I wouldn’t go that far… Ewing, Hakeem, and D Rob would all probably give Howard the business. Especially ‘giant killer’ Olajuwon. I’m just saying Howard would like Eaton-esque if he just plowed himself in the lane and didn’t have to worry about ticky-tac fouls.

  • http://big11mel@yahoo.com Big Mel

    Everybody on here talking about he should hit somebody the same people talking about he hit D.Rose to hard.

  • hamza

    Forget d12
    he got posterized by my man cp!

  • http://slamonline.com jamaal 16

    Few things kobe won rings in his early twenties and if d12 played n the 80s and 90′s all those fouls wouldn’t even b called!